Friday, September 22, 2006


My buddy bagged out on last night's Game 3 against the Braves. Something about paperwork he needed to finish. His priorities are in the crapper. So I went on my pathetic own ... put my water bottle and pistaciNats on the seat where his butt would have been sitting. My munchies didn't crowd the armrest or try to talk about non-baseball subjects during the game, so I figure I came out ahead.

Like most good hearted Americans, I tend to geek out and concentrate almost too much on everything around me when I'm left to myself. . I have these Tibetan Epiphanies About Baseball (T.E.A.B), and amazing realizations wash over me, like glaze on a ham. Oh look! Here comes one now.

Nick Johnson always has the bat boy lob a ball to him as he crosses the third base line and is heading for the dugout.

Maybe you knew that. Maybe all first basemen do it, but it's new to me.

So I know, wow, right?

Has this always happened and I just never noticed? Often, after catching the lobbed ball, he lobs it out into the crowd - almost always to a kid. But sometimes, he just keeps the ball hidden in his glove and goes into the dugout. Is this common practice among first basemen, or is this something he arranged himself? Back in April, did he take the bat boy aside and tell him to always lob a ball to him? "Pay attention, son."

Were threats insinuated? Is there something in his contract? Where do these balls come from? Are they all the balls the ump tosses out of play, or is it a mix of ump balls and new balls? I've had some explanations, but they don't add up. Most commonly (twice), I've been told that the first baseman is given a ball to be used for warmup grounders the next time the team takes the field. But that's rubbish, as my British friends might say (no, they wouldn't). Where is the ball while the first baseman is at bat? Does he lay it on the bench and say, "Hey guys, I'm up. Don't touch this ball, ok? It's for grounders when we go back to defense. I'm looking at you, Vidro! I'll just pick it up after I go to bat and maybe get on base ..." Why can't he simply grab a ball on his way out to first base FROM the dugout? No sir. Doesn't match up.

While I was pondering on that weirdness, the Braves were chewing up the Natties pretty hard. A double for Chipper Jones. Andruw singled to center and ran-in Chipper (Larrrrrrrrrrry). Brian McCann and Andruw each homered off Ramone Ortiz, who has looked awful ever since his 8 innings without a hit against the Cards. In that game, he finally gave up a single, then a homer (Pujols), in the 9th.

Downhill ever since.

After Ortiz last night, Chris Booker gave up another homer to Jeff Francoeur, but by then I was in full-blown existential mode.

What's up with Nick's facial hair? - Wham! A HOMER - Clean shaven, goatee, shaggy - Wham! A DOUBLE! Is there a pattern? - Wham! Anudder HOMER! - Does he only shave after a loss? - BAT BOY LOBS ONE TO NICK (wtf?). Is he just a slob who forgets to shave quite often? - Frank Robinson begins to silently sob - Does he have sensitive skin? - Bowden updates his mental list of people he's going to fire in October - Is it somehow related to the ball tossing ritual? Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm - I wonder if all that paperwork is finished yet.

Maybe the bat boy tosses a ball to Nick as a symbolic gesture. Huh. Or maybe they just have too many balls. If you know, how 'bout a little transcendental explanation?

Monday, September 11, 2006

13 - 8. After an "amazing" comeback. I should have been excited when Washington tied it up, but I just kept thinking, wait for it. Then, as Bugs says in the XM bumper, "WHAM! A Homuh! WHAM! Anudduh homuh!". I acted all cool. "I knew that was coming. He loaded the bases." But the fact is, it sucked the air out of me as only a grand slam can do. If a series like the Debacle in Denver ... the Rocky Mountain Sigh ... pains a lowly fan so much, what does it do to a group of competitors so brutal, so barbaric that they made it to the majors? Sure, they've all been through routes before. There was that summer in Little League, maybe. Can they seriously just move on and play Arizona like nothing happened? If the Harlem Globetrotters were a baseball team, the 2006 Nationals would perpetually be the opposing team. But slamming them is too easy. Hopefully, I can keep an eye on the bigger picture; 2008. Meanwhile, Frank Robinson and Co. will play 12 more games at RFK this year, and I will travel two hours each way to be at every one of them. If I were to start booing them now, I might just as well go to Phillies home games and boo along with a chorus.